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Society For New Music / Sanchez-gutierrez / Lamb
Release Date: 05/25/2010 
Label:  Innova   Catalog #: 719   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Carlos Sanchez-GutierrezEdward RuchalskiMarc MellitsNicolas Scherzinger,   ... 
Performer:  Cristina BuciuSteven HeymanGeorge MaceroDavid LeDoux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Society for New Music
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SERENDIPITY Society for New Music INNOVA 719 (2 CDs: 111:52)

SANCHEZ-GUTIERREZ _...[and of course Henry the Horse] Dances the... . RUCHALSKI Winter Light. MELLITS Platter of Discontent. SCHERZINGER Fractured Mirrors. LAMB Subito. Read more MORRIS Society Sound. TRUEMAN Triptick

Something of a mixed bag here. The pieces were all commissioned by the Society for New Music which describes itself thus: “Founded in 1971, the Society’s purpose is to act as a catalyst for the continued growth of the central New York musical community by commissioning new works, through advocacy..., by featuring regional composers alongside guest composers, by providing regional musicians an opportunity to perform the music of their peers..., and by bringing new music to as broad an audience as possible... .”

Cynthia Johnston Turner conducts three of the works on the album: Robert Morris’s Society Sound , Nicolas Scherzinger’s Fractured Mirrors, and Marc Mellits’s Platter of Discontent. Society Sound is a sextet running some nine minutes and is a sort of “map” of a much larger, 90-minute extravaganza, Sound/Path/Field , a multiensemble work performed both indoors and outdoors “that allows the listener to wander around and experience his music as they please,” the conductor told me. “They can stay at one ensemble or choose to wander to the next but they are all interconnected by musical motives. The premiere was on the Syracuse University campus and involved a wind ensemble, orchestra, choral groups, and many others. The end of the piece has the audience coming inside to hear Society Sound . It’s not an easy piece and, to be honest, I found it difficult to understand at first. But, in the end, I came to appreciate it immensely. It’s a piece I needed to live with for a while.” I agree! On first hearing, I found it opaque; the knowledge that, as the composer states, it “is based on a cycle of 90 notes that overlaps all 29 of the tetrachordal harmonies available in the 12-note, equal-tempered system” not being of immediate help. But it does repay persistence.

Fractured Mirrors makes something of a contrast, being energetic and consciously composed to be fun to play. Written for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, the piece integrates the five players who pass motifs to each other like a kaleidoscope, as the composer puts it. “Another important element in the piece is the idea of a broken or fractured mirror...,” he writes. “I imagined what it would be like to write some music and then reflect a page of that music onto a broken mirror. Music that had initially appeared continuous would now rematerialize in splintered fragments.” And so it is, the music being engaging with a convincing conclusion. A PDF file of the score can be downloaded at no cost from the composer’s website (scherzimusic.com). More scherzos in Mellits’s Platter of Discontent , for flute, clarinet/bassoon, violin, cello, piano, and percussion. I am usually allergic to whimsically “funny” titles such as those of the six movements of this piece: “Paranoid Cheese,” “Freedom of the Eggs,” and so on. Nevertheless it is entertaining, offering a variety of moods, from the driving energy of the opening “The Seduction of Brie” (sort of Steve Martland meets Michael Nyman) and “Jello Infusion,” to the passionate lyricism of “Paranoid Cheese,” an extended violin solo most expressively played by Cristina Buciu, the composer’s wife, accompanied by cello and marimba. Something of the opening movement returns in the last, “Freedom of the Eggs,” much of it a driving toccata featuring the piano, played with gusto by Steven Heyman.

More amusing titles in Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s ...[and of course Henry the Horse] Dances the... for piano duo, percussion and string quartet (and a conductor). Judging by the names in the worklist on the composer’s website, he is clearly diverted by machines and these four short pieces are largely inspired by whimsical (real) ones: a wobbly robot, an installation of a mechanical mallet which hits a lot of tequila bottles, and so on. Very acutely imagined sound worlds, precisely realized with prominence being given to pianos and tuned percussion. Edward Ruchalski’s Winter Light for clarinet, violin, piano, and percussion is, apart from the instrumentation perhaps, an entirely conventional exploration of some tonal, lyrical themes. In three linked movements, running over 20 minutes, it evokes winter walks and, unfortunately, this gray coolness together with unremittingly slow tempos became wearing after the first hearing. Bags of energy in Sally Lamb’s Subito for piano trio. It bursts in with tremendous verve, and Lamb shows skill in writing music that’s genuinely fast (as opposed to being performed quickly). The four sections, fast-slow-fast-slow, with big switches of mood between them, present a variety of material: a collage, as the composer puts it, of popular songs, a bit of Beethoven, her own material, and so on. Saying that it is meant to be spontaneous, as Lamb does, wouldn’t cut the mustard if the result felt thrown together, but she gets away with it helped, I am sure, by the conviction of the performance. Finally, Dan Trueman’s Triptick , also for piano trio, plays with the interesting idea of a musical analogy to the homophone. If homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings (e.g., foil, clock, stretch, and so on), is there a musical equivalent? Each of the three movements of Triptick starts identically, but then goes off on its own course under the influence of a pair of words, for example stretch and steel in the second movement. It is an engaging idea which is perhaps spun out a little too long.

The recordings include a diverse range of ensembles made up of 20 musicians in total. Some players crop up repeatedly and credit must be given to John Friedrichs, clarinet and bassoon, Cristina Buciu, violin, David LeDoux, cello, Steven Heyman, piano, and Jennifer Vacanti, percussion, as well as Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor. However, all the players turn in what sound like fine interpretations of the varied repertoire and there is much to be enjoyed on this aptly titled disc.

FANFARE: Jeremy Marchant
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Works on This Recording

...[and of course Henry the Horse], for ensemble by Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Society for New Music
Written: 2007 
Date of Recording: 09/2008-06/2009 
Venue:  Setnor Auditorium, Crous College, Syracu 
Length: 12 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Winter Light, for ensemble by Edward Ruchalski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Society for New Music
Written: 2008 
Date of Recording: 09/2008-06/2009 
Venue:  Setnor Auditorium, Crous College, Syracu 
Length: 20 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Platter of Discontent, for ensemble by Marc Mellits
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Society for New Music
Written: 2004 
Date of Recording: 09/2008-06/2009 
Venue:  Setnor Auditorium, Crous College, Syracu 
Length: 21 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Fractured Mirrors, for ensemble by Nicolas Scherzinger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Society for New Music
Written: 2005 
Date of Recording: 09/2008-06/2009 
Venue:  Setnor Auditorium, Crous College, Syracu 
Length: 9 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Subito, for piano trio by Sally Lamb
Performer:  Cristina Buciu (Violin), Steven Heyman (Piano), George Macero (Cello)
Written: 2005 
Date of Recording: 09/2008-06/2009 
Venue:  Setnor Auditorium, Crous College, Syracu 
Length: 13 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Sound Society, for ensemble by Robert Morris
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Society for New Music
Written: 2006 
Date of Recording: 09/2008-06/2009 
Venue:  Setnor Auditorium, Crous College, Syracu 
Length: 8 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Triptick, for piano trio by Dan Trueman
Performer:  David LeDoux (Cello), Cristina Buciu (Violin), Steven Heyman (Piano)
Written: 2006 
Date of Recording: 09/2008-06/2009 
Venue:  Setnor Auditorium, Crous College, Syracu 
Length: 23 Minutes 42 Secs. 

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